Update September 6, 2016
After posting the article below I reached out to Westwood Legal to help clear up some confusion. At the bottom of this post you will find their reply. It’s long and I promised I would post their entire response so I have printed it in a PDF and embedded it so you can read the entire response.
My comments to their response will appear below their submission.
I received a couple of confidential tips regarding a company named Westwood Legal in Los Angeles. The tipster expressed concern that the company was linked to another company. They also expressed concern over reviews posted on Trustlink.org and expressed an opinion that they did not believe the reviews.
So I took a look at Westwood Legal. The results of my searching around are below.
Domain: thewestwoodlegal.com was registered on November 30, 2015 for a one year period. The domain ownership is hidden.
Registration: Westwood Legal was registered in the State of California on December 22, 2015. The company is listed as being located at 10880 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1101, Los Angeles, CA. 90024
Business Address: The business address is a virtual office space. – Source
Reviews: The allegations by the tipster is that the reviews posted on TrustLink are fake. They said, “They even created another trustlink.org account with 20 fake reviews that are all 5 star reviews and written by people inside the company.”
In looking at the reviews as of today there is some basis on questioning the reviews.
The first review is posted on December 7, 2015 and says, “They took the time to do it right…I was pleased with these guy’s service, they take their time and do a quality job. I cannot say enough but i do know that without them i don’t believe i’d still be in my home. So happy again, and thank you to the Staff at Westwood!” But the company was registered to do business in California till December 22, 2015. It is a bit perplexing how Westwood Legal could take the time to do it right if they were not even incorporated yet or formed the business.
In fact there are eight reviews posted prior to the company registered to do business with the State of California.
Another interesting aspect of the reviews is all 20 reviews posted are five star reviews about the company but only about mortgage modification services. Yet the website of Westwood Legal says they are legal firm that provides services in “Real Estate, Immigration, Bankruptcy, Tax Settlement, Worker’s Compensation.” So where are the reviews for services other than mortgage related issues?
While it could potentially happen, the odds seem remote that the company has no BBB entry yet has 20 five star reviews all about only one service they purport to offer.
Some Other Items: According to the Westwood Legal Facebook page on January 12, 2016 they posted the following item.
It leads me to wonder how many “past clients” they had in the preceding 21 days since registering to do business and incorporate.
A Linkedin profile for Westwood Legal says the firm has been in business since March 2009.
The Westwood Legal website does not list the names of any staff or attorneys associated with the company.
There is so little information available about Westwood Legal online that in my opinion the existence of 20 reviews about the company in one location, all five star, all about mortgage issues, and 40 percent of the reviews being posted prior to the company being formed, is a bit suspicious.
The tipster expressed a concern that Westwood Legal was tied to a previous group, Camden Legal Group. You can read past posts about that company here.
According to Corporationwiki, Camden Legal Group has a Jimmy Swinder as president. The company is listed as no longer actively registered with the State of California. The company was incorporated using the service of Corpnet.
Swinder is also listed as the president of Brighton Legal Group which was incorporated in 2015 by Corpnet.
Westwood Legal states the president is Francisco Martinez and was also incorporated by Corpnet.
It is very possible many businesses incorporate using Corpnet and the fact all these companies did is purely a coincidence.
Action: I have emailed the company and asked them to look at this post and respond.
I would recommend that anyone considering using such a company should read the following free guides.
- The Ultimate Consumer Guide to Checking Out a Debt Relief Company Before You Sign On the Line
- How to Check Out a Business or Company to Avoid Getting Scammed or Ripped Off
Westwood Legal Response
Below is the email I received today (9-6-2016) in response to this post.
In my email exchanges with “Spencer” I asked for information regarding who the owners of the company are and who the attorney is who is associated with this company. It appears Westwood Legal is resistant to responding when they said, “We didn’t miss the point, we know that you want licensing and compliance information. If you or anyone else wants to call in and speak to any one of the attorneys on staff or understand our process, feel free to call in. However, we will not provide you that information on the record in an open forum especially with how this was initiated.”
In fact what I said to Spencer was:
I think if you can answer the following questions it will go a long way. There is nothing wrong with using a virtual address per se. The time it gets concerning is when so little public information is available about the company. It gives the impression of hiding. You sound like that is not the impression you want people to have.
1. Who are the specific attorneys who represent consumers.
2. Who is the owner of the company and managing attorney.
3. Help me to understand how so many testimonials were posted before you were registered to do business in California.
4. The firm lists a number of areas that you assist consumers with. What percentage of work does each of those categories represent? Is mortgage work 10%?
5. What is your fee schedule and help me to understand how you are in compliance with the FTC MARS Rule at https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/mortgage-assistance-relief-services-rule-compliance-guide
I think California has a similar law. Yes, here it is. http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/ConsumerInformation/LoanModificationFraud.aspx
BONUS: Please send me your client agreement for mortgage assistance services.”
A Spencer responded by saying:
We certainly do not want to give that impression, you’re right. We will go through each and every question and address, as well as, provide more in an effort to demonstrate legitimacy (which is the implied question). Whatever we can do. We do see the goal here, and that is to help the readers navigate, and we support that. You have our cooperation. Expect a fully written response by next week after the holiday. We trust everything in our response will be posted and not certain portions to create a manipulated narrative, correct?
I remain personally surprised that in my exchanges with Westwood Legal that initially I only received a response from a generic email address by someone named Spencer and then a lengthy response from someone who is unidentified. A law firm not providing the name of the lawyer behind it is very unusual in my experience.
It is personally concerning to me given the fact the homepage of the purported law firm says, “We strive to adhere to the highest ethical standards; we pride ourselves in offering our skills and talents for the betterment of the legal profession and the diverse communities in which we practice. Our goal is to maintain a culture of collegiality in which we help each other to best serve our clients, our profession and our communities.”
The very long company response seems to think someone spilled the beans on them. It seems like a very aggressive answer to some perfectly reasonable questions from a reader who asked some legitimate questions.
The article was the information I publicly found in trying to learn more about the company from a position of knowing nothing. I don’t think the unidentified person responding disputed any of the information I had published except my statement the domain ownership was hidden. More on that below.
In the unidentified person response it says the domain ownership is not hidden. My reference to hidden was as in unclear.
The domain whois record at the time of the article was:
Domain Name: thewestwoodlegal.com
Registry Domain ID: 1984860874_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.godaddy.com
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Update Date: 2015-11-30T19:56:04Z
Creation Date: 2015-11-30T19:56:03Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2016-11-30T19:56:03Z
Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
Registrar IANA ID: 146
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: [email protected]
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.4806242505
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientUpdateProhibited
Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientRenewProhibited
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientDeleteProhibited
Registry Registrant ID: Not Available From Registry
Registrant Name: Westwood Legal
Registrant Organization: Westwood Legal
Registrant Street: 10880 Wilshire Blvd
Registrant Street: #1101
Registrant City: Los Angeles
Registrant State/Province: California
Registrant Postal Code: 90024
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.800-913-0430
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: [email protected]
Registry Admin ID: Not Available From Registry
Admin Name: Westwood Legal
Admin Organization: Westwood Legal
Admin Street: 10880 Wilshire Blvd
Admin Street: #1101
Admin City: Los Angeles
Admin State/Province: California
Admin Postal Code: 90024
Admin Country: US
Admin Phone: +1.800-913-0430
Admin Phone Ext:
Admin Fax Ext:
Admin Email: [email protected]
Registry Tech ID: Not Available From Registry
Tech Name: Westwood Legal
Tech Organization: Westwood Legal
Tech Street: 10880 Wilshire Blvd
Tech Street: #1101
Tech City: Los Angeles
Tech State/Province: California
Tech Postal Code: 90024
Tech Country: US
Tech Phone: +1.800-913-0430
Tech Phone Ext:
Tech Fax Ext:
Tech Email: [email protected]
Name Server: NS73.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
Name Server: NS74.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
URL of the ICANN WHOIS Data Problem Reporting System: http://wdprs.internic.net/
The domain was registered on November 30, 2015 by a Westwood Legal but Westwood Legal was not registered to do business in California until December 22, 2015. So who was Westwood Legal in November? The response says it may have been a sole proprietorship but the unidentified response from Westwood Legal does not say who that person or entity was. Thus, in my opinion it remains hidden.
I think the company wanted to ally concerns readers of this post might have or create in their minds by reading my original article. But at the end of the day, what stands out to me is the fact an alleged law firm still does not identify the lawyers who are behind the firm and/or the owners of the firm. For example, the company response provides examples of properties they have assisted with in Georgia. But does the firm have a Georgia licensed attorney on staff?